Saturday, May 19, 2007

Works Cited

Why then is there so much confidence in these numbers for the accurate description of physics, when our initial experience of the relevance of such numbers lies in a comparatively limited rage? This confidence--perhaps misplaced--must rest (although this fact is not often recognized) on the logical elegance, consistency, and mathematical power of the real number system, together with a belief in the profound mathematical harmony of Nature.


How 'real' are the objects of the mathematician's world? From one point of view it seems that there can be nothing real about them at all. Mathematical objects are just concepts; they are the mental idealizations that mathematicians make, often stimulated by the appearance and seeming order of aspects of the world about us, but mental idealizations nevertheless. Can they be other than mere arbitrary constructions of the human mind? At the same time there often does appear to be some profound reality about these mathematical concepts, going quite beyond the mental deliberations of any particular mathematician. It is as though human thought is, instead, being guided towards some external truth--a truth which has a reality of its own, and which is revealed only partially to any one of us.

Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind

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